Dangers of Laced Weed: How to Protect Yourself

laced marijuana

In recent years, the legalization of marijuana for recreational use has become increasingly common across the United States.

While this shift offers options for regulated consumption, it also exposes the public to the dangers of unregulated marijuana products, especially laced weed.

Plenty of ingredients and potent additives are deliberately mixed in with marijuana for various purposes. However, laced weed poses an incredible threat to marijuana users, as it aggravates neurological damage and massively increases the risk of dependency and addiction.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this growing problem and how to protect yourself from its harmful effects.

What Exactly Is Laced Cannabis?

Regular weed or cannabis is used for its psychoactive and medicinal properties, which are mainly caused by its active ingredients tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, simply known as “THC” and “CBD” respectively.

These ingredients are naturally occurring in the cannabis plant and are both found in weed at varying levels depending on various factors.

However, sometimes cannabis is intentionally mixed or spiked with other substances for various purposes. This creates what is known as “laced weed”.

While many additives can be added to cannabis, the term “laced” is usually exclusively used to describe the addition of potent drugs that exhibit intoxicating effects when consumed.

How Common Is Laced Weed in New York?

While New York has legalized recreational marijuana use, its legal weed market is still developing. This means there’s still a black market for cannabis run by various non-state-approved and street sellers.

These sources are common problems for the authorities because they’re typically responsible for the prevalence of laced weed in the state. For instance, recent news reports show a growing concern about fentanyl-laced marijuana circulating in the black market.

It’s also worth noting that fentanyl-laced weed is a widespread problem and isn’t particularly exclusive to New York. In fact, many states across the nation where legal marijuana is sold also suffer from this deadly combination.

Why Is Cannabis Laced with Additional Substances?

While legal cannabis producers and sellers are heavily regulated, black market and street sellers may try to mix in additional substances to their marijuana for various purposes. Here are some of the reasons behind the prevalence of laced weed.

Enhanced Profit Margins

This is typically the most common cause for lacing marijuana. For some drug dealers, lacing marijuana is a way to stretch their product. In this case, the weed is laced with cheap inert fillers to increase the weight and volume of the weed they’re selling.

Generally, the filler most commonly used here is plants that look like cannabis. Street dealers and black market sellers typically use poor-quality weed with relatively low THC content, as they typically use the cheapest methods to produce it.

In this case, they may intentionally spike the weed with potent psychoactive substances to create a stronger high and make up for the reduced THC concentration.

Increasing Potency and Altered Effects

Some sellers try to attract buyers by advertising that they have the most powerful variants of weed. This is typically marketed under terms like “super weed”, which promises anywhere from a stronger high to unique psychoactive effects that other types of weed can achieve.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the product they’re selling is simply marijuana laced with other dangerous drugs with different properties that pure weed doesn’t possess, such as stimulant effects.

Poor Processing

While laced weed is typically used to describe intentional spiking with addictive drugs, it can also happen due to poor manufacturing and process.

Unregulated cannabis cultivation might expose plants to various contaminants, such as pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals used to maximize yield and prevent plant diseases.

What Are Common Additives in Laced Marijuana?

There are plenty of added ingredients and contaminants that can find their way into marijuana either intentionally or unintentionally. Here’s a quick look at the most common ones.

Fentanyl and Other Opioids

Fentanyl is the most common additive used in laced weed. This is one of the most potent and addictive opioids out there, which is around 50 to 100 more potent than morphine. In fact, even traces of the substance can lead to fentanyl overdose when smoking weed.

In addition to fentanyl, synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids like heroin and ketamine are also added to cannabis to increase its potency.


Psychedelics are also added to weed to create a new depth of euphoria and induce hallucinogenic effects while using cannabis, especially in the form of edibles.

These are almost always added intentionally to weed, as many of them are relatively more expensive. These include hallucinogenic drugs like:

  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or LSD
  • Phencyclidine or PCP
  • Ecstasy, also known as “3,4-Methyl​ene-dioxy-​methamphetamine” or “MDMA”


Mixing weed with stimulants is typically used to enhance the addictive potential of weed. The most common stimulants used here are cocaine and methamphetamine.

This combination is extremely dangerous because it leads to various serious side effects and complications, such as:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Deteriorated mental health (with continuous use)
  • High risk of overdose and heart attacks

Non-Pharmaceutical Products

In addition to pharmaceutical products, some weed products, especially the cheapest options sold on the streets, can also include various non-pharmacological ingredients.

For example, improper processing methods can expose cannabis to heavy metals like lead or arsenic, which can have serious health consequences.

Additionally, some dealers even mix in embalming fluid, laundry detergents, and even crushed glass.

These dangerous additives are added for different purposes, from increasing the bulk of marijuana to increasing the drug’s effects.

For instance, embalming fluid ends up causing severe lung injuries and difficulty breathing, as it contains formaldehyde. This can also develop into life-threatening lung collapse with continued use.

Dangers and Risks of Laced Cannabis

Laced cannabis is a significant threat to unaware users because of its unpredictable nature and unknown contents.

The risks associated with these chemicals depend on their original effects. For instance, fentanyl overdose can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death.

Besides the risk of immediate overdose, mixing highly addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin with cannabis increases the risk of developing substance use disorder, which requires hospitalization and careful management of withdrawal symptoms while being treated.

In individuals predisposed to mental health disorders, exposure to the unpredictable effects of the added drugs can cause serious episodes of anxiety, which may lead to paranoia or psychosis.

How to Protect Yourself from Laced Weed

Here are some crucial steps and tips you can take to protect yourself from the dangers of laced weed:

Avoid Unregulated Sources

This is the single most important step, as the vast majority of lacing incidents are associated with cannabis purchased from street dealers.

Always acquire cannabis from state-licensed and regulated dispensaries, as they’re required by law to test their products for potency and contaminants to ensure they are free of harmful additives.

Use Fentanyl Test Strips

Fentanyl test strips are fairly inexpensive and quite easy to use, allowing you to detect the dangerous drug in cannabis with relative ease.

They typically work by adding a sample of the cannabis to water and dipping the test strip into the solution. If fentanyl is present, a colored line will usually appear on the strip.

Important Note About the Risk of Marijuana Addiction

As you can see, laced weed poses a serious threat to health and should always be avoided by buying from certified sellers.

That being said, you should also remember that unadulterated marijuana also has a potential for dependence and addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with marijuana addiction, we’re help to help. Contact Long Island Treatment Center immediately to connect with experienced professionals who will help you create a personalized plan for recovery!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Long Island Treatment Center

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